Riding on Top

Memoirs of a Modest Master Hobo

by Gordon McLean



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 12/8/1999

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 172
ISBN : 9781552123003

About the Book

During the thirty-two years that Gordon McLean taught high school none of his colleagues or students suspected that, beginning at age fifteen, he had survived seven seasons of hoboing. A bank manager's son, the young McLean was driven only by boredom and a lust for adventure. Hoboing was a colorful way of life that is gone forever and there are only a diminishing few survivors who can explode the myths and tell us what it was really like. McLean is one such survivor. His experiences varied from audacious, hilarious, heart-stopping, thoughtful, spiritual, and almost mystical. Now at age eighty the ex-hobo still dreams of riding freights and has vivid memory flashbacks. He has decided to share these memories with his "very numerous, very dear progeny". Non-relatives are welcome to kibitz. Readers, in addition to being highly entertained, amused, and moved, will learn little-known, startling details about life and attitudes in out of the way places during the Depression that will amaze even old-timers who lived through that era. The young hobo was a keen, sensitive observer and the octogenarian has been able to vividly recapture and communicate what the young "bo" experienced.

About the Author

Bored and craving adventure, Gordon McLean quit school after grade VIII to become a warm weather hobo and itinerant farm worker. After seven seasons he married, worked at Ocean Falls, and then joined the Air Force. After the war, subsidized by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, he was able to complete five years of university and become a high school teacher. He taught for thirty-two years including two years in Montreal teaching English to francophone students. For adventure during his working years McLean cruised the B.C. coast with his wife and three kids in a fifteen-foot open boat loaded with a tent and camping gear. He also climbed with the Alpine Club of Canada and the Seattle Mountaineers. Now, an octogenarian, he must be content with mountain hiking rather than climbing. His "adventures" no longer have the spice of danger. But he has enjoyed reliving his hobo days which included plenty of danger. McLean has three children, seventeen grandchildren, and twenty-six "Greats". He and his second wife live in Nanaimo and spend their winters in Southern Arizona.